The Hermit VIII Tarot of Marseilles
The Hermit VIIII of The Tarot of Marseilles appears as an alert, wise and old male; a solitary figure making his way along a gently undulating, golden path or terrain. He cuts is a rather colourful and dramatic figure against a background of ‘pure white’ and one which is almost completely devoid of symbols or other distractions. The colour white is symbolic of purity and innocence. It also signifies encounters with spirit. White is the colour that represents the chakra that sits just above our head and the chakra that corresponds to being open to our purpose and to new levels of ability and knowledge.
The Hermit VIIII is handsomely dressed in materials, of red, blue and gold. He wears a heavy, luxurious and well-crafted, blue cloak that drapes large and abundantly. Deep-blue is the color of integrity, intelligence, inner-balance and, in medieval times, signified elevated social standing or higher status. The colour blue symbolizes the fifth or throat chakra and represents one’s ‘voice’, speaking one’s truth and to ‘hear and speak’ to spirit.
The Hermit VIIII uses his wand to help him negotiate his way along a gently undulating, golden path. His head is lifted to what is before him; and his facial expression, while serene, show a look that is highly focused and attentive and seems to be observing something with satisfaction and good humour. The Hermit VIIII appears to be surveying in the direction of the past; perhaps he is examining the events and people who have helped shape his self-concept, beliefs, values and relationships.
Gold, well-defined, reminds of the sun, of joy and abundance. It symbolizes abundance, warmth and generosity. It suggests an inner nature of wisdom and optimism and draws the attention to triumph over difficulty. Gold symbolises the characteristics of one who offers support, insight and learning to others.
The Hermit VIIII wears a dark red friar’s habit that can be clearly seen from the front opening of his blue cloak. Red, well-defined, is the colour of positive passion, driving ambition and physical strength. It symbolizes the first or Root chakra, the energy center for self-determination, purposeful action and the desire to experience the fullness of living. The habit extends to a large red ‘cap and bells’ that drapes over his shoulders and back; and is reminiscent of the type worn by the jester of the medieval courts. The Hermit VIIII’s ‘jester’s cap’ is a reminder of the gleeful and carefree The Fool 0; who often represents the very first moment in the Hero’s Journey and reminds us of the wise and experienced The Hermit VIIII’s innocent beginnings.
The Hermit VIIII’s lantern gives light enough to see the path that lies immediately before him. The lantern symbolism revolves around its purpose as a vessel for light and is used to light one’s way in times of darkness; a symbolic vessel for concepts of virtue, truth, intelligence and insight. It signifies the wish for a bright future both for the self and for others through . The diffused glow of red and gold that gently shines from his lantern does not reveal its source but represents the glow of his aspirations, hopes and dreams; in some cultures, red is a symbol of happiness and gold of wealth and prosperity. The lantern gives The Hermit VIIII the strength, enlightenment, knowledge or understanding to continue his journey.
The Hermit reminds us all of the solitary road we all must travel from time to time in order to grow wealthy in wisdom and abundant in self-knowledge; to 'be quiet' when necessary so that we can refer to our own inner guides - or provide guidance to another. And, to recognise and simply accept ourselves for who we are and what we have become. He depicts our own evolution from the humble beginnings as The Fool 0, to embarking on the next phase of our journey; a call from destiny.
Reading tarot for others (and occasionally myself) is exciting, inspiring and very gratifying.